Turning Japanese & a visit to the ancient shrines of Nikko

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May 19th 2014
Published: May 19th 2014
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Ross gave us the Japanese equivalent of an Opal card which, before we headed off to Nikko, we went into the local 7-11 store to top up. It was there that I discovered that I'm turning Japanese because, just like a Japanese person I found myself bowing after saying 'Arigatou' - it's obviously catching!

Taking the bus to Shinagowa, and from there to Tokyo station, as we had some time to spare before our Shinkansen departed for the journey to Nikko we explored a park inbetween Tokyo station and the Imperial Palace. It was interesting watching a work crew planting flowers around many of the shrubs in the park on what was another 'nice weather day'.

Once we'd arrived in Nikko - located in Tochigi Prefecture in the northern part of Japan's Kanto region - we went straight up to the World Heritage area to explore some of the many shrines and temples which have for centuries been part of a sacred site known for its architectural and decorative masterpieces. There are any religious buildings within two Shinto shrines (The Tôshôgû and The Futarasan-jinja) and one Buddhist temple (The Rinnô-ji) located in an outstanding natural setting. These religious buildings, many of which were constructed in the 17th century, are arranged on the mountain slopes so as to create different visual effects. The first buildings were constructed on the slopes of the sacred Nikko mountains by a Buddhist monk in the 8th century. Today, they testify to a centuries-old tradition of conservation and restoration as well as the preservation of religious practices linked to a site considered to be sacred. They are also closely associated with prominent chapters of Japanese history, especially those relating to the symbolic figure of the great Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). The 50.8-hectare property provides evidence of a long tradition of worship, a very high level of artistic achievement, and a striking alliance between architecture and the surrounding natural setting, and it serves as a repository of national memories. (with thanks to information gleaned from a UNESCO site). Needless to say it was very, very impressive and well worth travelling to see.

There were many other international travellers, including a couple from Brazil we were chatting to, amongst the Japanese exploring the temples and shrines. Plus Japanese school children galore all armed with educational information sheets along with harassed teachers trying to keep them from
Including this one!Including this one!Including this one!

After this little sojourn it was off to Nikko which is approximately 140 Kms north of Tokyo
wandering off!

There were many other World Heritage sites in the area all of which were about an hours travel away from the area we explored but as we'd decided not to stay the night in Nikko we had to forego seeing them as well. So it was two weary travellers who boarded the local train and then the Shinkansen for the journey back to our home base.

Naturally, being a pair of 'snappy toms' we took far more photographs than I've added here!

Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 23


Yet another shrineYet another shrine
Yet another shrine

Which took lots of climbing up steps to reach. A 23 year old was going to forego climbing up the numerous stairs to see this however I told her if I could do it, so could she!

20th May 2014
Back to Nikko station for the journey home

Art work
I love the intricate carvings they have on their temples, very similar to China

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